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How Does Stem Cell Treatment Work for MS?

written by: DulceCorazon•edited by: Diana Cooper•updated: 11/28/2010

Stem cell treatment multiple sclerosis is currently being researched in different parts of the world. Scientists are trying to find out how stem cell treatment can cure multiple sclerosis.

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    Overview

    Stem cell treatment multiple sclerosis (MS) has gained ground in the last few years. Multiple sclerosis is a neurological disorder that affects an estimated 2 million young and middle aged individuals around the world. The disease is common among females. Caucasians living in moderate climate territories are also said to be at high risk. In this condition, parts of the body such as the spinal cord, the brain and the optic nerves are usually damaged resulting in the impairment of certain body functions. Some of the common symptoms of the disease include movement and coordination difficulty, urinary problems, speech and sight problems as well as mental and emotional impairment.

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    Stem Cell Studies

    Because the disease is said to be caused by many factors, various scientists, like the geneticists, immunologists and neuroscientists, are usually involved in studying MS.

    Many studies have already been done, but more are still ongoing about MS and especially on the impact of stem cell transplantation as a possible treatment. These researches aim to determine if the progression of disease can be halted, if the damage can still be repaired, and if it is still possible to restore the functions of these damaged nerves.

    For years, stem cells have been used in treating leukemia through bone marrow cell transplantation. The same process has been the subject of stem cell research which aim to prevent the progression of MS among those with aggressive disease. There are two types of transplanting stem cells, namely, the autologous process which uses the patient's own cells, and the allogenic process, where the stem cells are taken from a screened donor whose tissue type matches that of the patient's. The problem with allogenic transplant however, is tissue rejection.

    Some ongoing researches are thus, using the autologous stem cell transplantation in the possible treatment of multiple sclerosis. Autologous transplantation in treating MS involves destroying the immune system of the patient through chemotherapy and reintroducing the stem cells. This makes the probability of autoimmunity less likely. The other theory that researchers are testing is whether the myelin sheath that protects the nerve fibers in the brain and which is damaged by MS can be repaired through stem cell treatment. Patients who undergo these treatment processes often require specialized care after undergoing these procedures given the high risks of serious complications that may arise.

    There are several more researches regarding stem cell treatment multiple sclerosis. Some of these are looking into the effects of mesenchymal stem cells and its effect on remyelination of the nerves. Many other studies are also digging deeper into the mechanism of the immune system response and the demyelination that occurs in MS.

    Most of these studies are progressing in different areas of the globe, including the United States and Canada, among many other countries. Although the main objective is finding a safe and effective cure against MS, stem cell treatment research is also focusing on how to slow down the progression of the disease and possibly change how the disease progresses.

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    References

    Stem Cell Information: http://stemcells.nih.gov/info/health.asp

    Stem Cell Network: http://www.stemcellnetwork.ca/index.php?page=multiple-sclerosis&hl=eng

    Medscape: http://www.medscape.com/viewarticle/563024_3